Poverty rates in six Valley counties highest in state, U.S.By Brad Branan / The Fresno Bee08/29/07 05:02:06More informationPoverty line

The poverty line by family size in 2006:









Note: Figures for families of three or fewer assume one adult; figures for other families assume two adults.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau


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Six San Joaquin Valley counties have the highest poverty rates in California, and among the highest rates in the country, new census figures show.

The U.S. Census Bureau found in a survey of 40 of California's 58 counties that Fresno, Tulare, Kings, Kern, Merced and Madera counties had the highest percentage of residents living below the poverty line last year.

The survey was one of two released Tuesday that examined poverty.

The other survey, which did not provide county-level results, found the first decline this decade in the national poverty rate, a drop of less than 1%.

The bureau's American Community Survey, which did provide county-level figures, found the poverty rate didn't change nationally and went down less than 1% in California.

About one in five Valley residents were considered poor last year, according to the American Community Survey.

The six Valley counties were among the 52 counties with the highest poverty rates in the country. McKinley County in New Mexico had the nation's highest poverty rate -- 44%.

From 2005 to 2006, four Valley counties had increases and two counties had decreases in their poverty rates. However, only two counties -- Madera and Merced -- had changes that were greater than the survey's error margins, which varied by county and ranged from less than 1% to 5% in California. The survey excluded 18 of the state's least populated counties, including Mariposa.

"If the San Joaquin Valley were to become a new state in the country, we would rank last or second to last in per capita income," said state Assembly Member Juan Arambula, D-Fresno. "I think the figures show that our people are worse off even than those in the Appalachians."

Poverty levels are determined by family composition. A family with a single parent and two children, for instance, was considered poor last year with an income of $16,242 or less.

Experts attribute the Valley's high poverty rate to a low-wage economy, unskilled workers and weaknesses in the educational system. The factors show up clearly in agriculture but are apparent in other industries.

"Like we see in developing countries, we need to invest in human capital, in education," said Antonio Avalos of Fresno State's Center for Economic Research and Education of Central California. "New companies will come and [bring] better-paying jobs."

In the six Valley counties, 53% of adults 25 years and older and living in poverty didn't have a high school degree last year, the census estimated.

Part of the problem lies in population trends, said Hans Johnson, a researcher at the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonpartisan policy research center based in San Francisco.

Low-skilled and poorly educated immigrants continue to move here, while others with better prospects leave.

Valley residents who aspire to greater achievement move to go to college or a higher-paying job, said Johnson, who has studied the region's population trends.

"The San Joaquin Valley has fallen behind the rest of the state," said Johnson. "I think there are a lot of people concerned about that."
The reporter can be reachedat bbranan@fresnobee.comor (559) 441-6679.


Notice it is very hard for these idiots in the newsmedia to get it right. They still can't seem to call the illegals for what they really are, CRIMINALS who are the trash that mexico uses as a money machine.